Linking the Value Chain to Socio-Ecological Systems approaches

by | Nov 4, 2021 | MOVING

Tarek Allali (University of Pisa)

Recently the MOVING project has published the deliverable 2.1, which describes the MOVING Conceptual and Analytical Framework (CAF). The CAF helps to develop a shared language among consortium members and it provides the theoretical underpinning for all other activities.

This deliverable presents the conceptual framework through a demonstrative scheme showing the different (direct and indirect) connections between a range of concepts that are pillars for the project’s objectives. This mainly focuses on the linkage between Value Chains (VCs) and Socio-Ecological System (SESs). The main concepts that have been explored in depth in the CAF are:

  • Value Chain (VC): in addition to the theoretical and chronological development of the concept, MOVING has chosen to show the importance of a VC beyond only the actors involved and their activities, considering also financial flows, information flows, knowledge inputs and outputs, and their interactions to create value.
  • Socio-Ecological System (SES): considered as a complex structure that links people and ecosystems through different subsystems framed according to Ostrom’s proposition. It shows the organisation and interactions between the SES components. This framework helps to include both natural science knowledge and, above all, the knowledge of local actors.
  • Vulnerability, resilience, and their links to sustainability. They are  essential to explain the interrelated dynamics associated with the systematic approach of socio-ecological change and sustainability.

The MOVING CAF is inspired by the Ostrom’s representation of SES. On one hand, it brings together the four central first-level subsystems of a SES, namely: (i) resource systems, (ii) resource units, (iii) users, and (iv) governance systems. On the other hand, it includes other aspects such as value chains and social practices, which have been grouped under another equally important approach called “Assemblage”.

MOVING Conceptual and Analytical Framework

An assemblage makes it possible to represent the dynamic evolution of VCs in terms of the ability of actors to perform different practices at the same time, the connections between different practices and the definition of diverse business models.

MOVING project understands that one value chain (VC) connects different Socio-Ecological Systems (SESs), and the actors and their practices are assembled into VCs that affect the vulnerability, resilience, and sustainability of both local and distant SESs.

The conceptual framework extends to other concepts such as relational space, technological pathways, and enabling policy environments. It also emphasises the interactions between all these elements and the outcomes they generate, for example: economic value, ecosystem services, livelihood, etc. which in turn can affect the vulnerability, resilience, and sustainability of a SES.

The CAF is operationalised through a list of ten propositions. Together, these statements describe the conceptual pathway from the observation of the case-studies to the assessment of VCs’ contribution to the resilience and sustainability of SESs.

The connections between social practices and value chains beyond the boundaries of the SES are important to consider. MOVING refers to the socio-ecological and environmental interactions between different SESs, using the concept of “Telecoupling”, through which VCs may affect different SES in terms of value created, vulnerability, and resilience.

With all of the above, the CAF is the theoretical basis for MOVING’s purpose of analysing how different VCs’ configurations can contribute to the resilience of SESs in the European mountain areas. To achieve this purpose, the proposed CAF and the related analytical questions will guide the regional Multi-Actor-Platforms (MAPs) in the analysis of the 23 case-study VCs and in the recognition of the VCs’ configuration that increases the resilience and sustainability of SESs in mountain areas.

Understand better the MOVING Conceptual and Analytical Framework (CAF) with the explanatory video by Gianluca Brunori.

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